Monthly Archives: April 2015

Recognizing that you are an introvert and making the most of it

“I restore myself when I’m alone.” Marilyn MonroeI’ve been thinking a lot lately about introversion, and how normal careers and life can be difficult for people who get overstimulated and need a lot of “me time” to recharge and replenish their emotional energy reserves. I used to say at my last few jobs that I felt emotionally drained and exhausted at the end of the day. The jobs were not physically challenging, but they demanded a lot of interaction and included frequent conflict. I would come home at the end of the day feeling like I’d been giving everything I had all day and I needed time to be alone. I am an introvert.

People who are introverted aren’t necessarily shy or anti-social. But we are people who “recharge” and gain our personal energy by being alone instead of being part of a group. I often enjoy socializing, but after a while, I need some quiet time to think and relax. There’s nothing wrong with that, but introversion is often considered a bit of a handicap when it comes to making friends,  climbing a career ladder, and networking.

Since I have become self-employed, I am spending my days home with my young children instead of in an office with adults, but I still recognize that need to have some quiet time alone at the end of the day. My doctor even encouraged me to take a part of a day every week to do something for myself because parents need to recuperate too. So today, I am doing that and reading some about introversion, because I want to learn to use it to my advantage.

I’ve come across some good links that are worth sharing:
10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World

I can relate to so many points in this article! For example, the writer points out that introverts can feel overwhelmed in a crowd, but might feel energized by a one-on-one conversation. Or, we are very good at giving public speeches, but we stumble when it’s time to converse with strangers. We are more likely to screen and/or avoid taking phone calls–partly because it pulls us away from other things we are doing. I think it is noteworthy that each of these comparisons has a strong point for introverts. We are different from extroverts, but our differences can work for good. The introvert can have long, stimulating conversations, can really focus on putting together a public speech and can stay on task with a current project. I think if we can focus on the positive aspects of introversion, we can thrive even in a primarily extroverted environment. It’s important to pay attention to your feelings and needs so you can nurture them.

And here’s another good article:
Introverts’ secrets of success

This writer discusses the reality that Western culture rewards extroversion, and that the large majority of managers and bosses are extroverts. So where does that leave us introverts?! Fortunately, the article gives some ideas! I really like this quote from a reporter/news correspondent named Tazeen Ahmad: “”The secret to any success I’ve had has been embracing my introversion….” That is an excellent point! One quality of introverts is that we are more likely to observe and think about things, so we can use that to our advantage by fostering good intrapersonal skills. As I mentioned before, if you get to know yourself, what energizes and relaxes you and how you react, you can learn to use your personal qualities to your advantage. There are more practical career tips for introverts in this article.

And here is another great article:
The Best Job for Introverts Is No Job (In Particular)

When you first see this title, you might think you are going to read a list of jobs that are best for introverts, but when you read on, it’s really about making the most of being an introvert no matter what job you are in. I think I like that idea better–thrive with your differences and use them instead of trying to hide them. The article also recommends a book that sounds pretty helpful. I just ordered it, so I’ll have to report back!

Wasting time keeps you from reaching your dreams!

Don't waste time on the wrong things. It will only keep you from getting to the right things.  Don't be afraid to let go of things that aren't right for you!I’ve been thinking today about wasting time. Not wasting time as in procrastinating, or being lazy, but wasting time as in staying in situations that are pointless. How many of us have stayed in a bad relationship, or an unsatisfying job, or continued doing things we didn’t really want to do just because we were used to doing them and didn’t know how to change…or worse, were afraid to face changes? I know I have!

I spent nearly all of my twenties dating someone who was perfectly nice–someone that I got along with really well…but I had no romantic feelings for him. I knew I wanted to get married and have kids one day, and I knew it would not be with him, but I just kept staying even though I knew I wanted more. We were extremely compatible and had all of the same hobbies, so I feared moving on and losing what I did have. I thought it was easier to keep dating that person and continue having a built-in partner for social occasions than it would be to become single and look for someone I did have romantic feelings for. In many ways, it was. In fact, I still haven’t found someone that was such a great match for sharing all my interests. But on the other hand, I haven’t found someone that was a good partner either. Sometimes I wonder, did spending so much time in a dead-end platonic relationship seriously hurt my chances to meet the right person for me? While I was wasting time, were all the smarter women marrying the men I would have liked better? I have a sneaking suspicion that I wasted many good years that would have been better spent single and meeting a better match for me. Not that life is over and I’m ready for the retirement home or anything, but did I miss out? I definitely didn’t make much progress towards my real goal!

I feel the same way about many areas of my life. Did I waste time switching my college major a few times? Did I waste time at jobs I didn’t like? Did I waste time staying at home instead of working on a career when I was married? While I did have many good experiences, I knew I was unfulfilled, and I just stayed that way instead of taking steps to get what I really wanted. I think the journey through life is very important, but…you have to be ON that journey instead of sitting in the rest area while your goals are still waiting down the road!

I want to live a life of movement towards my dreams instead of being stagnant. Every moment we are feeling unhappy and not doing anything about it is a moment wasted…a moment that isn’t being spent doing the things we want to do with the people we want to be with. It is time to make changes and reach for what we want instead of just waiting!

Are you really “behind” your peers? Or just on a different track?

laymileaf1Some of us take longer than others to get on the right track in life. We don’t know what we want to do when we grow up, we are hampered by rough beginnings, we make dumb choices…and we end up far behind out peers when it comes to our careers, education, families and other areas of our lives. We see people our own ages who are doing so much better and we see younger people who are surpassing us as well. Not going to lie…it’s depressing!

I have had that problem. And I think, even though I now know my life purpose, I’m a good 15 or 20 years behind. My much younger sister makes more money than I do with hardly any work experience! I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time and I’m going to have to work hard to get back on track. But can I catch up when I’m this far “behind?”

And does it really matter? Am I truly behind? Or just different? Many of my former classmates have good paying careers, nice homes and established marriages. I’m not too far from where I started when I was leaving high school. And at the same time, since I’m not a fresh college graduate, I am watching much younger people get promoted ahead of me because I was not on the right track to begin with.

Sometimes I worry about this. But, then I start thinking and remembering that I have had some really unusual life experiences and have learned some lessons that most people will never have the opportunity to experience or learn. For one, I was once on an album cover. Who out of my peers can say that?! But on the other hand, I am twice-divorced–both times from abusive men with the second being an actual sociopath. Oh yeah, I learned something there! Let me say, I did NOT like that lesson. But, I have learned the power of introspection as I’ve uncovered why I attracted and was attracted to narcissistic men. And I am no longer naive to false charm; I know to look at actions instead of just hearing words. Plus, I learned how to help my children avoid ending up in the same position. I married abusers because I was raised in an abusive home, but it has made me alert to understanding how children and personalities develop…as well as what we all need to feel secure and not fall prey to pretty charmers. There are a whole slew of life lessons and there is a whole book’s worth of wisdom in my head. As a bonus, I’m aware that I need to learn more and I am open to doing so.

Does that really leave me “behind” my peers? Maybe in some areas, but perhaps not in the life areas that truly matter.

I think my life’s trials have given me a lot of understanding and critical thinking skills I might never have learned without having endured bad things. They helped me find some of my life goals, and they have prepared me to fulfill my plans. Most importantly, they have given me fire and inspiration to succeed!

And it’s okay to play “catch up.” There are plenty of admirable people who didn’t find their way until later in life. Did you know that the renowned wedding dress designer Vera Wang didn’t begin her design career until she was 40? Now she’s a HUGE name in her industry! Or how about comic book creator Stan Lee? He was almost 39 when he found success. Now his creations are legendary. Famous actor Samuel Jackson didn’t hit it big until he was 43 and comedian Rodney Dangerfield was 46. Charles Darwin didn’t write “Origin of the Species” until he was 50–the same age Julia Child was when she wrote her first cookbook. Now both of them are known as visionaries in their fields. And one of my heroes–Laura Ingalls Wilder–didn’t publish her first “Little House” book until she was 65.

I finally have a life goal and a plan that has been growing for the past few years. I’m closing in on 40 and I’m not doing as well as my peers, but that’s okay. I am in good company….

For more stories and information about people who found their success later in life….

20 People Who Became Highly Successful After Age 40

When others are counting on you, take time to replenish your emotional strength


Click here to purchase 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)

I read a chapter of tips out of this book every few days or weeks, whenever I have time. It’s just a book with 365 short ideas, (usually a sentence or two,) about how to improve yourself and your actions to make more money. The tips also relate well to life and emotional intelligence in general, so I often find them inspiring in more ways that one.

Today the quote that got me thinking is:

Remember to regularly nurture yourself. You cannot sustain or increase your productivity without replenishing yourself. Otherwise, you will run on empty and your productivity will suffer.

This is good advice for business, but life in general–relationships, parenting, chores, hobbies, and more.

My last job was extremely demanding, but I had so many options to work overtime and make more money. Every time I was offered the opportunity to work extra, I took it. How could I turn down work that would double my normal paycheck? Pretty soon, I was working 50-80 hour weeks. I kept telling myself “I can do this,” and I was excited about the financial benefits, but I was burned out. I burned out so badly, I finally quit the job. If I had worked in moderation, I might not have had all the extra pay, but I wouldn’t have become unemployed, so I probably would have made more in the long run. I pushed myself so hard for months and never took a bit of time to nurture myself. Since I am a single mom, I came home from my long days of work and then devoted every thing I had to two little toddlers. There was absolutely nothing for me. And yet I felt selfish for even considering doing something for myself.

Specifically when it comes to parenting, many of us have been trained to believe that the kids are a 24/7 commitment and we are selfish to take a break from them. I’ve had people tell me this, and I’ve seen people berate others for wanting a break. That is not helpful at all. As women and mothers, we should not feel guilty for needing to replenish ourselves–physically, mentally and emotionally! Of course you don’t want to leave your children with a baby-sitter every day, but it is not wrong to take a break even for a few hours a week. In fact, it’s the best way to be a good mother. When we devote so much of our time to nurturing others, we need to recuperate a little to build up our own reserves so we can give some more.

What about sick or aging family members or marriages or friendships that need a little extra TLC? When we give everything we have to meet our obligations, we often wear ourselves down so that we aren’t really able to give our best any longer. It’s important not to let work or life take so much of you that you lose the energy and stamina to keep going. Take the time to rest and recover so you can go after your commitments, goals and life with renewed energy!

Complaining lets us get stuck instead of appreciating what we have and pursuing what we want

Stop Complaining: Guide to Living Life Instead of Complaining About It

I was reading a short article in Reader’s Digest called “Why I Stopped Whining” and found an interesting quote. The point of the story is that when you complain, you waste time and miss out on appreciating what is good.

“Complaining allows us to acknowledge the imperfect without having to take action–it lets us luxuriate in inertia. We all have grand ideas about what life would be like if only we had this, or did that, or lived there. Perhaps complaining helps bridge the vast yawn between these fantasy selves and reality.”

It’s just a short two-page article, and the author goes on to explain that she learned to accept that life isn’t perfect and to appreciate the things she has. But, the quote made me think of a whole lot more. Complaining allows us to be lazy. We can sit and whine and feel bad, but we don’t have to be brave enough to take the next step to change things. Sometimes change is scary and it feels “easier” to just stay semi-miserable than it would be to take a risk trying something new. It’s a “luxury” to sit around complaining and not doing anything.

We often complain because we don’t have what we want. And there are some things we can’t ever have, but we could put an effort towards getting the things we want that are possible. Even though the writer, Roxane Gay, was making a point about accepting and loving what we have, that particular quote reminded me of the reality that whining also keeps us from achieving what we could have.

So…have your moment to sit and pine and think about how imperfect things are…then accept the things you cannot change and find the courage to change the things you can!

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

The importance of your thoughts and how they affect your moods

Sunflower Field with setting Sun in Background, nice Sunburst and SunbeamsI’ve read so many books that talk about the power of your thoughts, and I’ve blogged about the importance of positive thoughts. What you think and what you dwell on can really affect your day, your mood, your attitude and your emotions. Still, when something bad happens, it is so easy to get caught up in thinking negative thoughts, which then generate more negative thoughts over and over until you are in a horrible mood. I am seeing that in action now.

I’ve had a few disappointments lately–the worst being that I was turned down for a job I really, really wanted after going to a second interview. It left me feeling pretty depressed and the thoughts started swirling around in my head–I was an idiot in the interview, I didn’t dress well, I didn’t look professional, I answered the questions stupidly, I am so far behind my peers, I’m an underachiever, I’m never going to get a job now…. But it’s time for me to get real about what is really going on. None of those things are true. In reality, what happened was someone else was a better match for that job. It doesn’t mean I’m a loser. It just means that wasn’t the place for me.

It’s so important to look at our situations realistically instead of letting the bad thoughts take over. And I’m reversing that negative course now. What is the truth? I did dress nicely, I got along well with the interviewers, I wasn’t nervous, I’m not stupid, I have qualifications to get a good job. But, there were possibly hundreds of other well-qualified applicants. And one day, I’m going to apply for a job where *I* am the perfect fit!

Helpful site for women seeking a career change

I wanted to recommend a helpful site for women who are hoping to start a career, change a career, accelerate a career or start a business.

It’s called Classy Career Girl.

I started following the site owner, (Anna Runyan,) on Facebook last year, and she has some really good ideas that have inspired me to think about new tactics for my own career. She posts some thoughtful blogs with all kinds of career advice and she also frequently hosts free webinars. I participated in one webinar and got some great tips! Her blogs cover topics such as what to wear to work, paying off debt, networking, resumes and many more good subjects for ambitious working women. She does career coaching and sells packages as well, (I haven’t tried those options, but they sound very helpful as well.)

On her website, you can find a bunch of blogs, free tips and worksheets, and more information about her career courses and coaching. I try to keep up with all the new posts :)

I’m adding this website to the Helpful Links page.